By Lauren Bennett
Special to the Gazette
The project team for the Jamaica Pond path project appeared before the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC) on Nov. 27 to discuss their proposal for the second phase of the project and were given the green light to proceed by the commission.
The project team came before the commission earlier this year to get approval for phase one of the project. According to the project team, phase one focused mainly on the Pinebank area and is currently under construction. Phase two will largely focus on the pathway around the pond. The team is looking to put the proposal out to bid this winter for a spring construction start.
Kyle Zick, the project’s design consultant, went through the scope of the work with the Design Review commissioners.
As far as the pathway goes, Zick said that the mile–and–a–half perimeter path that goes all the way around the pond will be replaced in kind with asphalt for consistency. The path is currently not all one width and is in different conditions throughout, so they will make sure the path is one width all the way around. There will also be a new runner’s path along the pond made of crushed stone. Zick said they polled as many runners as they could, and found out that they want to be on the pond side and some prefer to run on crushed stone versus asphalt.
In addition, there are three existing locations of fitness equipment that comes from the 1980s or earlier, which will be replaced and updated, according to Zick.
Much of the project is focused on the entrances to the bandstand and the boathouse.
“We’re not doing any work to either building; that will be a separate project,” Zick said.
For this project, they are just looking to improve accessibility to each of the buildings.
For the bandstand building, Zick said that the current wooden ramp is not compliant with American with Disabilities Act guidelines. They are looking to make a permanent but removable ramp to replace it that would be completely compliant in terms of slope, materials, surface, and handrails, said Zick.
The existing planters are staying, though the design will be changed to “rain gardens” that will take roof runoff from both buildings.
“It’s a demonstration of how we can capture rain water and treat it before it goes into the pond,” Zick said.
The area will all be redone in concrete, as it is today. There are also a few communications wires connecting the buildings that will be placed underground so they will not be as visible.
Zick said another entrance they have been looking at is the one at Chestnut and Perkins streets, as it’s one where you can get onto the river path.
“The changes are fairly subtle in this case,” he said.
He said they are discontinuing an informal path in the area because it is not accessible, nor can it be made accessible, so they are adding a stretch of linear benches. They are also adding a drinking fountain, as one was there historically and Zick said it would be “a nice amenity around the halfway point around the pond.” They will also be adding some cobblestones to take some of the wear and tear where people are taking shortcuts as they come in and out of the park, Zick said.
In addition to the benches, they will be adding some shrubs that were inspired by the original Olmsted planting. There is no bicycling permitted around the perimeter path, so under the bike racks there will be signage telling people to park their bikes.
Zick said there will also be refurbishment of four sets of stairs, all of which are in the Pinebank area. They are all historic staircases: two of them are granite, one is Roxbury puddingstone, and one is brownstone.
For vegetation, Zick said they have “done good inventory of the plant species” and are outlining all of the different areas they want to manage. “As we do that, we want to replant as well,” he said. Basic management will require a multi-year effort, he said, and their idea is to replant trees, shrubs, and ground cover in certain locations, with those staircases being a priority. The tree planting will also follow the Olmsted plant list. Zick added that the plantings for the new “rain gardens” deviate from the Olmsted plant list because they are specific in terms of the “rain garden” function.
Karen Mauney-Brodek of the Emerald Necklace Conservancy expressed her support for the project.
The commission unanimously approved the project as it was submitted.